Max Holloway used the main event of UFC Fight Night 197 to remind everyone of just how good he is in a unanimous decision win over Yair Rodriguez.
The two featherweights were expected to throw punches in bunches, and they didn't disappoint from the outset. The two combined to land 99 significant strikes in the first round, with Rodriguez actually outlanding Holloway in part because of his leg kicks.
The second round was more of the same as neither guy slowed down. The fast-paced affair got the attention of their fellow fighters on social media:
Pantera's kicks came back to haunt him in the third round. He slipped while attempting one, and Holloway jumped at the opportunity. With top position, he was able to land ground-and-pound and found an advantage on the ground that he would expose again later in the round with a takedown.
Holloway's infamous cardio and pace were again evident as the fight stretched into the main event rounds. Rodriguez was game, but Holloway began piecing him up on the feet as the bout carried on.
Overall, Rodriguez displayed a lot of toughness and skill to hang with Holloway, but Blessed proved he is still one of the best featherweights in the world. This fight marked the first time Rodriguez has fought in two years.
He should continue to be a factor in the division while Holloway makes his best case to get back into the title picture.
Here's a look at how the rest of the card went down from the UFC's Apex Facility.
- Max Holloway def. Yair Rodriguez (49-46, 48-47, 48-47)
- Marcos Rogerio de Lima def. Ben Rothwell via TKO (0:32 R1)
- Felicia Spencer def. Leah Letson via TKO (4:25 R3)
- Khaos Williams def. Miguel Baeza via TKO (1:02 R3)
- Song Yadong def. Julio Arce via TKO (1:35 R2)
- Joel Alvarez def. Thiago Moises via TKO (3:01 R1)
- Andrea Lee def. Cynthia Calvillo via TKO (5:00 R2)
- Sean Woodson def. Collin Anglin via TKO (4:30 R1)
- Cortney Casey def. Liana Jojua (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Rafael Alves def. Marc Diakiese via submission (1:48 R1)
- Da Un Jung def. Kennedy Nzechukwu via KO (3:04 R1)
Marcos Rogerio de Lima def. Ben Rothwell
Ben Rothwell can be a tricky out if given the chance to make a fight ugly. That may be why Marcos Rogerio de Lima decided to end it as soon as possible.
The Brazilian was successful in that mission. He opened up the round with big bombs for Big Ben. He landed a right hand off a leg kick and jab that backed up Rothwell, and he went for the kill.
Once he had him against the fence, he poured on the punches, landing many of them cleanly. Herb Dean didn't have the cleanest of stoppages but intervened before Rothwell took unnecessary damage.
The whole thing took de Lima just over half a minute.
De Lima is no stranger to first-round stoppages. This is the 14th of his career and further establishes how dangerous he can be early in fights. A win over Rothwell might be his biggest name to date and could open the door for a ranked opponent next.
Felicia Spencer def. Leah Letson
The women's featherweight bout between Felicia Spencer and Leah Letson was a story of space or lack thereof. Spencer simply smothered Letson from the opening bell and buried her under pressure until she finally cracked.
Spencer took home a third-round TKO finish, but it wasn't the result of any one shot. Spencer backed Letson to the fence continuously through the first two rounds and let her elbows cut up her opponent's face while wearing her down.
By the third round, Spencer began creeping closer to the finish. She took down her opponent and began raining down strikes until the referee had no choice but to call the fight.
These were the kind of performances that were expected of the Canadian when she made the move to the UFC from Invicta. However, that hasn't always been the case. She is now 3-3 in the UFC, and this win snapped a two-fight losing skid.
When Spencer is aggressive like she was in this bout, she's still tough to beat.
Khaos Williams def. Miguel Baeza
Khaos Williams isn't the most technical fighter in the world, but he sure brings the power. That was something Miguel Baeza learned the hard way when Williams ended his night in the third round.
Baeza had a good plan of attack. His leg kicks found a home early and often, while his kickboxing frustrated Williams in a back-and-forth fight.
But exchanging punches with Williams typically has a shelf life. With the close fight headed toward the scorecards, Khaos turned up the heat and landed a series of looping punches that put Baeza out.
Williams has now put together back-to-back wins since his loss to Michel Pereira. He is 4-1 since joining the UFC and figures to continue to get opportunities given his exciting style. If he keeps finding ways to get knockouts like this, he'll be climbing the ladder soon.
Song Yadong def. Julio Arce
Song Yadong kicked off the main card in style with a second-round TKO win over Julio Arce. The 23-year-old Song is one of the youngest fighters on the roster and continues to show that he has a bright future.
Fighting an experienced veteran in Arce, the prospect got off to a reserved start. He likely won the first, but his approach was a little more restrained.
In the second, those reservations went out the window. Song unleashed a kick and series of right hands that put Arce on his back and ended the bout.
Song is now 7-1-1 in nine fights with the UFC, but he's starting to take on better competition. Arce isn't currently ranked but is a solid striker, and the Song hasn't been a great finisher.
This was a step in the right direction and an exciting step in his development.